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3 games in 3 days: Mississippi State women’s basketball hosted multiteam event, improved play through weekend

Bulldogs complete nonconference play at 9-3.

Freshman forward Denae Carter vs South Carolina State on Dec. 20
Austin Perryman/MSU Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The MSU women’s basketball team completed round-robin play with a 2-1 record from Saturday through Monday, hosting three nonconference opponents in a multiteam event at Humphrey Coliseum.

MSU fell 73-66 to Troy on Saturday before rebounding (literally and figuratively) to take Sunday’s game against Jackson State 74-66 and proved to be top dog over the South Carolina State Bulldogs 85-47 on Monday.

Redshirt senior guard Anastasia Hayes was described by interim head coach Doug Novak as 50-50 to start on Saturday, but she was held out of play again through the weekend. Hayes was injured during warmups before the Dec. 12 game against UT Martin. With sophomore guard Alasia Hayes and freshman guard Mia Moore both injured, and senior center Jessika Carter still taking time away from the game, the Bulldogs had just nine available players for the event.

The Bulldogs invited the Troy Trojans inside The Hump for the Saturday matchup, and the Trojans executed a sneak attack on the glass for most of the game. Troy outrebounded MSU by a 60-39 margin.

Troy scored the final nine points of the second quarter for a 37-30 advantage at the half. The Trojans came out strong to open the second half, scoring the first six points in the third quarter to stretch their lead to 13 points. At the 8:11 mark in the third quarter, sophomore guard JerKaila Jordan then nailed a 3-pointer to end the Trojan run. Soon after, the Bulldogs embarked on a 14-0 run to claim the lead. After three quarters, MSU stood with a 51-48 advantage.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Troy embarked on a 10-0 run to claim the lead and the Trojans held on for a 73-66 win over the Bulldogs.

The Troy defense confounded the Bulldogs for much of the game, and MSU tried to rely on outside shooting. However, the Bulldogs only shot at a 33.3% clip for the game and 20% on 3-pointers.

The Bulldogs held a 7-2 advantage in steals and forced Troy into 15 turnovers, but Troy’s rebounding edge helped the Trojans control the pace of the game.

Junior forward Rickea Jackson once again led Bulldog scoring with 25 points and added eight rebounds. Jordan netted 18 points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward Denae Carter completed a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Troy junior forward Felmas Koranga netted 25 points, while junior forward Amber Leggett and senior forward Tina Stephens both earned double-doubles in points and rebounds for the Trojans.

The Jackson State Tigers entered Sunday’s game against MSU with a 1-4 record, but all four losses were close defeats on the road to quality Power Five teams. MSU built a seven-point lead in the first half of the game, but the Tigers earned a 33-29 halftime advantage by holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the final 4:38 of the second period.

MSU used strong third and fourth quarters to secure 74-66 victory. The Bulldogs hogged the boards better than they did against Troy, and their 51-33 rebounding advantage led to a 21-9 scoring advantage in second-chance points.

Jackson scored a game-high 24 points in becoming the 24th Bulldog to score 1,000 career points. Jackson also pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds. Denae Carter earned her second consecutive double-double in her first start of the year, netting 17 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Jordan also earned a double-double in points and rebounds.

Jackson State senior guard Dayzsha Rogan led the Tigers with 17 points.

MSU dominated play in the first three quarters against the South Carolina State Lady Bulldogs on Monday and cruised to an 85-47 victory. MSU had a 23-3 scoring advantage in the second quarter and a 28-16 margin in the third quarter.

Carter earned her third consecutive double-double, the first MSU Bulldog to accomplish that feat since Jessika Carter did so on Feb. 27, 2020. Denae Carter’s efforts earned her honors as he Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. MSU held a 52-24 rebounding margin, leading to a 15-4 scoring advantage in second-chance points. MSU also scored 25 points off turnovers to just two for South Carolina State.

Six Bulldogs scored in double figures. Graduate guard Caterrion Thompson and redshirt junior guard Ashley Jones each had their first-ever double-digit scoring games with 15 and 14 points, respectively. South Carolina State freshman guard Nicole Gwynn led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 22 points.

Troy ran the table at the tournament, improving to 9-5 on the season. The Trojans were an NCAA Tournament team in 2020-2021 as Sun Belt Conference champions.

Jackson State went 1-2 for the event, falling to 2-6 on the season. The Tigers were an NCAA Tournament team in 2020-2021 as Southwestern Athletic Conference champions.

South Carolina State went 0-3, falling to 0-13 on the season. The Lady Bulldogs compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Nonconference midseason grade: B

The MSU Bulldogs completed their nonconference schedule with a record of 9-3, including a 7-1 record at home and 2-2 on the road or at neutral sites. MSU lost 64-48 to No. 9 Michigan (11-1) at a neutral site, faltering in the second half of the game.

The Bulldogs were pummeled 94-63 on the road against Oklahoma (10-1). The loss to Troy on Saturday at home looks like a bad loss, but Troy is a tougher team than its record indicates.

Given the depleted nature of the Bulldogs’ roster, they have adequately navigated the nonconference slate of games.

When the Bulldogs have attacked the boards and pressured in the paint to score, they have found more success. MSU has relied too much on outside shooting during some games. This team hustles almost all game, every game. The Bulldogs are an active bunch and usually hold an advantage in turnovers, blocks, steals and assists for most contests.

Coach Novak is getting the effort from the players he has available. I give the coaching an overall grade of B at this point in the season. The conference season will bring taller defenders, so new challenges await this Bulldogs team.

Next up: MSU will begin Southeastern Conference play by hosting the Florida Gators at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, Dec. 30. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.

Hail State!